Peru's ex-president kills himself to avoid arrest

Peru's ex-president kills himself to avoid arrest

LIMA- Reuters
Perus ex-president kills himself to avoid arrest

Peru's former president Alan Garcia shot himself in the head on April 17 to avoid arrest in connection with alleged bribes from Brazilian builder Odebrecht, taking his own life, in the most dramatic turn yet in Latin America's largest graft scandal.

Garcia, a towering and charismatic figure who played a central role in Peruvian politics for more than three decades, died in a hospital at age 69 after shooting himself at his house in Lima when police arrived with a warrant for his arrest.

Garcia's death shocked the Andean country that had watched his transition from a fiery leftist who was elected president at age 36 to a free-market crusader who won a second term in 2006.

A pugnacious politician considered one of Latin America's best orators, Garcia had long been dogged by graft allegations that he brushed off as baseless political smears.

But prosecutors investigating Odebrecht gathered enough evidence to secure a judicial order this week to hold Garcia in pre-trial detention while they prepared charges against him, arguing that he might flee or obstruct their work.

Odebrecht, a family-owned construction conglomerate, spurred probes across Latin America after it admitted publicly in late 2016 that it had secured lucrative contracts in the region by bribing politicians. Former Odebrecht executives are now cooperating with prosecutors as informants.

The investigation in Peru had picked up speed in recent months, with a judge ordering another former president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, to jail before trial in connection with the company last week.

Peru, president, suicide